I was looking forward to the meeting, as always Richardson built and built, until the wait was unbearable. When it came, I was not disappointed.
Richardson, when he was something worth describing, can extract all the tension and cruelness from the meeting, can zoom in on every hurt feeling and sensitive nerve, can recreate the intensity of feeling that can only occur among a close family.
I found Clarissa to be rather cruel, saying she’d rather be bricked up then live with Solmes. I know she wanted to be clear, emphatic and honest, but she didn’t need to be quite so harsh to the poor man. Luckily for Solmes though, he seems rather too dense for the insult to strike really deep.
There were many times in this chapter where I wanted to smack James Jr in the face. Indeed, I found myself shouting at the book for Clarissa to land him one right in the moosh. As often as she says that meekness does not indicate tameness, I am yet to see much of the wild animal in Clarissa.
In general, the book has picked up and I would rather read thirty pages of Clarissa, telling only the events of the 8th of April than five pages of sweeping lyrical history in The Hamilton Case - a book I maintain to be one of the dullest ever written.
Clarissa may be repetitive, it may be in urgent, urgent need of a proper editor, but there is an intensity in the repetition that does propel the book forward. It may be a slog, an arduous read at time and I may be lagging behind, but I’ve not given up yet.
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